Over the years, OME has established a network of quality wood suppliers who select exceptional woods for us at the first milling. These woods are then air dried for several years before we start machining them into musical instruments. We also take extra time in our shop between processes to insure that any movement of wood happens before final finishing. On the average, an OME instrument is in the shop for at least a year from start to finish. This helps insure that the final product is stable and is built to last.
The tone woods we generally use for our necks, rims, and resonators are South American mahogany, North American black walnut and North American figured and plain maple. Fingerboards and peghead overlays are generally African ebony, Indian ebony, or South American rosewood. These woods are chosen for their tone, stability, durability, and beauty, and have been successfully used for many decades.
Generally, mahogany gives the warmest, woodiest tone while maple is the brightest, and walnut is in between. However, every piece of wood is different and varies widely even within the same species. For example, mahogany and walnut can sometimes be more dense and brighter than maple, and maple can sometimes be warmer and woodier than mahogany or walnut. Our experience over many decades has been that all the woods we use work very well, and regarding tone, the banjo body size, tone ring, and set-up all effect the tone more than the type of wood used.
OME offers three types of wood finishes: tung oil penetrating varnish, satin lacquer, and high gloss lacquer. On our Old-time and Vintage Series mahogany and walnut, we use several coats of a penetrating tung oil varnish. This finish penetrates the wood and protects it from the elements while producing a natural look and feel with a very smooth surface. Dings and scratches which, might occur on this type of finish, can also be more easily repaired than on a surface finish such as lacquer or urethane.
For Old-time and Vintage Series maple which is normally stained, we use several coats of satin lacquer to protect and enhance the woods. On OME Professional, Custom, and Artist Series instruments we offer a variety of custom colors and use several coats of hand sanded and polished high gloss lacquer to give an optical quality finish to bring out the full beauty of the wood.